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George W. Bush breaks silence on George Floyd's killing

Former President George W. Bush broke his silence Tuesday afternoon on the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis black man who was killed by a white officer on Memorial Day. 

Bush said that he and former first lady Laura Bush were 'anguished by the brutal suffocation' of Floyd and disturbed by what they've seen since, chiming in on the side of legitimate protests, seemingly a veiled rebuke at President Trump.     

'It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future,' Bush said. 

He added that 'looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress.'

'But we also know that lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice,' the ex-president said. 

Former President George W. Bush spoke out Tuesday on the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis 

President Trump (left) characterized protesters in a Tuesday tweet attacking Democratic rival Joe Biden as 'anarchists, looters or thugs' 

Trump, in a tweet earlier Tuesday attacking Democratic rival Joe Biden, characterized protesters as 'anarchists, looters or thugs.'  

Bush started out the statement by explaining his reluctance to release one. 

He and the former first lady, he said, 'resisted the urge to speak out, because this is not the time for us to lecture.' 

'It is time for us to listen,' he said. 

But Bush also said it was time for the country to examine it's 'tragic failures.' 

That way, he said, the country could find its 'redeeming strengths,' which among those was peaceful protests.  

'It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country,' Bush said. 

'This tragedy — in a long series of similar tragedies — raises a long overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society?' Bush asked. 

Bush suggested that could happen by listening to Americans who are 'hurting and grieving.'        

'Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America - or how it becomes a better place,' he said. 

Bush pointed to what he called the 'heroes of America' - Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. - and noted that they are 'heroes of unity.' 

'Their calling has never been for the fainthearted. They often revealed the nation’s disturbing bigotry and exploitation — stains on our character sometimes difficult for the American majority to examine,' Bush said.  

'We can only see the reality of America's need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised,' the ex-president added. 

And he suggested that's what the country needed to do now. 

'Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions,' he pointed out.        

'We serve our neighbors best when we try to understand their experience,' he said. 'We love our neighbors as ourselves when we treat them as equals, in both protection and compassion.'  

GEORGE W. BUSH'S STATEMENT ON THE KILLING OF GEORGE FLOYD 

Laura and I are anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country. Yet we have resisted the urge to speak out, because this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen. It is time for America to examine our tragic failures – and as we do, we will also see some of our redeeming strengths.

It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country. It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future. This tragedy — in a long series of similar tragedies — raises a long overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society? The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving. Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America — or how it becomes a better place. America’s greatest challenge has long been to unite people of very different backgrounds into a single nation of justice and opportunity. The doctrine and habits of racial superiority, which once nearly split our country, still threaten our Union. The answers to American problems are found by living up to American ideals — to the fundamental truth that all human beings are created equal and endowed by God with certain rights. We have often underestimated how radical that quest really is, and how our cherished principles challenge systems of intended or assumed injustice. The heroes of America — from Frederick Douglass, to Harriet Tubman, to Abraham Lincoln, to Martin Luther King, Jr. — are heroes of unity. Their calling has never been for the fainthearted. They often revealed the nation’s disturbing bigotry and exploitation — stains on our character sometimes difficult for the American majority to examine. We can only see the reality of America's need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised. That is exactly where we now stand. Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason. Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions. We know that lasting justice will only come by peaceful means. Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress. But we also know that lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all.

This will require a consistent, courageous, and creative effort. We serve our neighbors best when we try to understand their experience. We love our neighbors as ourselves when we treat them as equals, in both protection and compassion. There is a better way — the way of empathy, and shared commitment, and bold action, and a peace rooted in justice. I am confident that together, Americans will choose the better way.

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